Once a Vermont worker reaches Maximum Medical Improvement, he or she may be entitled to permanent disability benefits if the injury results in a permanent impairment. Vermont law provides for two types of permanent disability benefits. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits compensate workers for any type injury resulting in permanent impairment. Doctors must use the American Medical Association’s Guides to Evaluation of Permanent Impairments, 5th Edition, to rate patients for permanent impairment. The doctor assigns a percentage rating to the worker’s permanent injury. This rating is then converted to a money award for Permanent Partial Disability using the worker’s Average Weekly Wage and Compensation Rate.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD) is the second type of permanent disability benefits in Vermont. These benefits are for the most serious injuries preventing workers from returning to any regular and gainful employment. If an injured worker is permanently and totally disabled, PTD benefits are given in addition to any PPD benefits that may have been awarded. Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation Statute contains some injuries that automatically result in permanent and total disability. These include blindness in both eyes, the loss of both hands or both feet, and the loss of one hand and one foot. However, a worker can also be permanently and totally disabled in Vermont if his or her injury results in an inability to engage in regular and gainful employment when considered along with other factors such as age, experience, training, education, and mental capacity. Among lawyers this type of permanent and total disability is known as the “odd lot doctrine”.
Why You May Need a Lawyer to Help You Get Permanent Disability Benefits
You might need representation from a Vermont Workers’ Compensation lawyer to help you get permanent disability benefits for a number of reasons. These include:
- Disputes over Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) ratings
- Proving permanent and total disability
- Structuring Workers’ Compensation settlements to avoid losing Social Security Disability benefits
Jarvis & Modun fights for the permanent disability benefits our clients deserve. We also know the best ways to preserve Social Security Disability benefits when settling a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Disputes over Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Ratings
One of the common areas of disputes in Workers’ Compensation claims is over the worker’s correct permanent impairment rating. The employer/carrier has the right to send an injured worker to a doctor of its choice to do a permanency ratings. The injured worker has the right to a rating done by his or her treating doctor or a doctor of his or her choice if the treating doctor does not do ratings. Not surprisingly, the rating from the employer/carrier’s doctor is often lower than the rating from the worker’s doctor.
An experienced attorney can help you get the highest impairment rating possible under the rating system. Jarvis & Modun understands the AMA Guides and how the ratings system works. We make sure that your treating doctor considers all of the medical conditions that should be rated. We know the mistakes doctors sometime make. If your treating doctor does not do impairment ratings, we can direct you to a doctor who understands the AMA Guides and will do a comprehensive rating examination. If there is a dispute over the correct impairment rating, we will fight to get you the best permanency award possible.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
Permanent Total Disability (PTD) claims are among the most complicated claims within the Workers’ Compensation system. They involve the most serious injuries and the most difficult vocational questions about whether the injured worker is capable of regular and gainful employment. They are also the most expensive claims for insurance carriers and employers. Because of this, PTD claims are among the most thoroughly litigated Workers’ Compensation claims.
If you have been injured at work and fear you may not be able to work again because of it, you should hire an experienced Vermont Workers’ Compensation attorney to help you through the Workers’ Compensation claims process. The attorneys at Jarvis & Modun know from experience what sorts of medical problems make it difficult to succeed at regular and gainful work. If your medical conditions are severe enough, we know how to build a case to prove that you cannot work again. Call Jarvis & Modun at (802) 540-1030 if you fear you are unable to work again because of a work injury. An initial consultation is free, and we will take you through the steps necessary to prove you are permanently and totally disabled.
Workers’ Compensation Offsets of Social Security Disability
Many lawyers have made mistakes in settling Workers’ Compensation claims that result in clients losing money from Social Security Disability. This is money clients could have had if the settlement was done right. This is a complicated area of law requiring an intimate understanding of both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits and how they relate to one another.
If you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time, you should seek the assistance of a lawyer who thoroughly understands the complicated relationship between these two benefit programs before you try to settle your Workers’ Compensation claim. Craig Jarvis has educated lawyers from around the country on the strategies available for preserving Social Security Disability benefits when settling a Workers’ Compensation claim. He also consults with lawyers in Vermont and other states on the best strategies to use in their individual cases.
Jarvis & Modun strives to educate our clients on the relationship between Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability. We consider that relationship in connection to every Workers’ Compensation settlement or award, and we structure each settlement or award in a way that best serves the individual needs of each client. Call Jarvis & Modun for more information about what you have to gain by hiring us to represent you in your Workers’ Compensation or Social Security Disability claim. We always like it when we can help a client out with both!